Ohio voters need every available opportunity

An Ohio bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich has taken away several days of the early voting period, including the time known as the “Golden Week,” the overlap between absentee voting and registration deadlines that allowed people to register and then immediately cast a ballot that would be counted only after the registration checked out.

It also reduces the number of days that people may cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person from 35 days to 29 days before an election.

Anything that may discourage people from voting, or limit their ability to do so, is questionable in our eyes.

While the argument can be made that anyone who truly wants to cast a vote will find a way to do so, the reality is that many people just don’t take the time or make the effort. They may not think their vote truly matters or they may be so busy and stressed that they don’t want another thing on their to-do lists. Work and family schedules can also be a challenge.

Opening up the window during which voting can take place makes the process easier and may make it more likely more residents will cast a ballot. That’s something we need to be encouraging in every way possible.

Voter turnout in Washington County in last November’s election was 27 percent. In November 2012, when there was a presidential election, it rose to 69.9 percent. The two previous November elections both had a turnout of 51 percent. That’s not even considering all the people who have never registered to vote.

While those latter numbers are much higher, we can do better. That’s still a lot of voices not being heard.

And we should be making the process simpler and more accessible, not creating more restrictions. If someone can register and vote at the same time, perhaps that’s a draw.

We hope our state lawmakers can take a closer look at this issue.